First-Hand:IEEE Award Recipient Series:Alan Conrad Bovik


Full name

Alan Conrad Bovik

Birth date


What Award did you receive from IEEE?

IEEE Edison Medal

Place of Birth

Kirkwood, Missouri USA

Where did you grow up

Evanston, Illinois

Family Background: Parents and their education level & Siblings and their education/profession

  • Robert Erick Bovik, Father, BA from University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana
  • Ruby Mae Bovik, Mother, BA from University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana
  • Erick Arthur Bovik, Brother, JD from University of Houston (all deceased)

What did you want to do when you grew up?

Pitch for the Chicago Cubs baseball team, or be an astronaut. That was the Space Age!

What was your upbringing like? Did you have a large family?

Medium sized family, parents, myself and my brother, middle class in Chicago area

Did you have any hobbies (eg. Some people talk about learning trade skills from a family member.)

Street basketball, building airplane models, Asimov and Clark, and astronomy

Did you partake in after school activities? Did you play sports?

Not much! I tried to escape school as quickly as possible.

Did you have a part-time job (after school, summer)? What was your most surprising job assignment?

I washed dishes at the "Pig's End Restaurant, and scooped ice cream at Peacock's Ice Cream

Did you take vacations and/or go on day trips? Favorite holiday/family gathering?

We went on several family vacations, all stateside.

EDUCATION: Favorite subject in school (K-12, university). Why?

Digital Image Processing from Professor Thomas Huang

Did you have a least favorite subject in school (K-12, university. Why?

Physical Chemistry, Too much memorizing!

Why did you select the university (universities) you attended? What was your major and why did you select it?

University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana was the #2 Engineering school in the US, and was the affordable state school!

Employment and career: First job - Current position - Favorite job

Assistant Professor at The University of Texas at Austin - same perfect job today!

Has your career turned out as you expected?

Even better, the best job in the world!

Has IEEE played a role in your career? How? What does IEEE mean to you?

It is the forum over which I share all my ideas with the broader world, and vice-versa.

You have been awarded one of IEEE's highest-level awards. What does this award mean to you?

It is very gratifying coming from my peer electrical engineers, and being named with Bell, Telsa, Armstrong, Holonyak ....

Career Advice: What advice would you give to young professionals entering your field today?

Take as many math classes as possible, it's really not just about data. Be multidisciplinary.

Reflection: What would you have done differently or tell your younger self now?

Apply yourself earlier!

Was there a project that you were so passionate about that you continued to pursue it even though there may have been doubts about its success?

Yes, 35 years ago I became convinced that visual neuroscience would one day deeply affect all of image and video communications. It took 2 decades for my dream to come to fruition.

What career achievement are you most proud of?

That today, most of the information transmitted over the Internet is processed, monitored, and controlled by theories and algorithms developed by myself and my students in the Laboratory for Image and Video Engineering (LIVE) at UT-Austin.

Personal Life: What do you do for fun? Hobbies?

Gardening, yoga, and swimming

What personal achievement are you most proud of?

Supervising many, many amazing students, including six that have national Emmy awards on their shelves at home.

Do you have a favorite food? Or a family recipe that may have been passed down?

I am a vegan and my wife is an amazing Indian cook - anything she makes! Especially Hyderabadi Eggplant Curry!

Do you have a favorite genre of music? or a favorite song? Or do you play an instrument?

I like all kinds, really

Do you have a prize possession? If so, please explain.

My Edison Medal (to be) and my Primetime Emmy statuette

What are three things people may not know about you?

I have flown over Mount Everest, lived in ashrams, and grow Indian vegetables

Who was your mentor? (eg. family member or professor)

Technical mentor: Thomas Huang

What is one thing you cannot live without in your work space?

A very large ultra-high-definition monitor on a high standing desk

Anything else you would like to share about yourself?

Thanks to my lovely and supportive amazing wife Golda and my two brilliant kids, future Fields Medalist Kai and future Tony winner Mercy